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Lashon Hara, talking about other people, is what keeps our community going. It is forbidden, but it keeps people coming to shul. It is the engine that keeps our community moving. If we didn't have Lashon Hara nobody would want to talk to Mendel. He's annoying. You talk to him, and you have something to talk about.
I don’t know if it’s Lashon Hara to talk about the intermarriages. I do know that you have to watch who you share your intermarriage thoughts with.
Betting on Ebay has become a big thing since COVID. I think they call it auctions. Our congregants have been very into auctions since Bingo has been down. People need to spend their time doing something that is not Torah. The members spend most of their time doing stuff that isn't Torah. They definitely don't show up to the rabbi's classes. Ebay auctions are a great way to ensure there is no Torah. I have been on the auctions myself and I have yet to see a Torah auction. Usually you have to start the bidding at a dollar or so to get it moving. People would think it was a fake Torah if they got it for a dollar.
We need Bingo back in our shul, it's a more passive way of gambling. The shul auction fundraiser was called off last year, as people said, 'We can go to the Ebay auctions.' It's hard explaining the excitement of the auction house to this generation.
Other fundraisers we’ve tried don't work. It has to be gambling.
Two deaths this week. BD"E. I was traveling. I missed them. What am I supposed to do? I can't keep track of community on the road. It's too much. I leave, I want to take a break from community.
Every time I travel, I miss out on stuff. I hate reading the bulletin. Always death.
Is my traveling bad luck?
We need a death chart. Or just death emails. When I'm traveling, I can't hear about who had a baby. I don't care whose grandkid had a baby. I'm on vacation from caring about who showed up to Shalishudis. I don't need to hear about the community sledding event, when I am not in town. I just need to know who died.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
Shabbat Shalom as Always My Pack…
It’s always Shabbat on Shabbat. So I wish a Shabbat Shalom… I always wish a Shabbat Shalom on Shabbat. I don’t say Yom Shelishi Shalom on Shabbat… That’s Tuesday. It’s about continuity. We do things that are continual. From day to day. Generation to generation. Except for the Felsensteins who have all intermarried…
You are my flock. I feel that with all the violence in Topeka recently, I would empower you and call you my pack... It's empowerment, Bernie. You need empowerment and to do things right. Empowered to not mess up...
(Shemot 27:20) ‘Now you shall command the children of Israel and they shall take to you pure olive oil, pressed, for illumination, to kindle the continual light’… This is the Ner Tamid. The continual light. It says nothing about flashing neon green above the ark… It’s for illumination, Bernie. The neon green does not illuminate. There is no pure neon green. I look up and I feel like I’m at a pool hall. I am praying at a pool hall… Yes. It’s messed up. The Temple didn’t have neon green… We’re trying to attract people, not flies…
The Ner Tamid is in our shul, because it was placed outside the Tent of Meeting. So, it is above the ark... The ark was in the Tent of Meeting... Yes. It sounds better in Hebrew, but there is messed up schooling here... We are a Small Temple. That’s what a shul is. And that is why you don’t have neon green lights… Gd did not command Moses to have the Cohens hang neon green light strips around the Temple… The Temple did not have Bingo… Yes. We need Bingo. We should have the neon green lights at Bingo. People buy more cards with the neon green lights. A continual Sunday night green light for Bingo…
The Ner Tamid was a candle always lit. Constant, because it was done every night. It was not lit all the time. This is a conundrum. A question as I stand before you today and give my sermon, which I always give… I only give it once a week, but the message lasts all week. Continual… Zalman likes this. He only shows up to Minyin once a week. He says that’s all the time... Your Shabbat candles go out in forty-five minutes.
If you would come to Minyin for Shacharit, I would say that we had a constant Minyin… We have to chase down people. That's a constant. I need to run a fifty yard daily dash to catch somebody for Kaddish. That's constant. That's tradition... We have constant talking in the shul. It’s always there. Continual talking in the middle of my Drasha. In the middle of Musaf there is talking. During announcements, talking. It’s continual… In the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, there wasn't always talking. In the Mishkan, the Tabernacle... Yes. They talked to figure out whose sacrifice it was. They would yell, 'Marvin. It's your sacrifice now. Felvel's is on the altar. Next up, Esther, bring your lamb...' They communicated. That's why they didn't have neon green lights... You don't just make a random decision by yourself. Especially, when it's going to be constant... You make a decision to not come to Minyin, constantly...
If you do something every day, it becomes part of you. An essence of your being. That’s why everybody knows Hymie as the one with the bad jokes… You tell bad jokes every day. Esther is the one whose hats bother everybody… Because you wear annoying hats all the time... Bernie is the one who interrupts and says the wrong thing at Shiva houses… Sarah has no idea what bagels to pick out… You always bring us plain. Get a garlic bagel or something…
Going to shul for Minyan every day, which you do not do, so it is not part of your life and who you are. What else do you not do every day? Thank H', show appreciation to your parents, give charity, pay your dues… You don’t even pay them once a year.
You might give a donation, but how many of you pay your dues. Not your half dues, while complaining you cannot afford to go golfing this Shabbat… Ripping out grass. Another one of the Melachot of Shabbat, you should not be doing on Shabbat Mr. Felsenthal... Nor should you be practicing your swing in the back of the shul. Sit down. Nobody cares you won the shul tournament, 10 above par... You’re a bad Jew… You golf all the time… We don't have to see your two hand, open handed swing in the back of the shul in the middle of Shema...
Make right decisions, at least once a day. Make it constant.
Going to get your late night drink of alcohol, before you go home to your family, everyday. That is a part of you; walking into your home wasted... Because you do that every day. That is who you are. Your tradition. A dad who doesn't pay for your children's education....
The activity is a nice feeling, might affect you, but it is not who you are... It shouldn't be who you are. Drinking shouldn't be how you define yourself... The Mishkan and Beit Hamikdash represent us as a Jewish People, the same way all the non-Jewish basketball teams think we are bad athletes, because our day school team can't buy a basket and loses every game.....Commitment is what we are talking about. Continuity is what makes a woman, man... Person. I should've said person. I get it.
Drink less often.
The first thing commanded to Israel, after erecting the Mishkan is to light a candle every night. That candle being considered Tamid- Always... You don't make decisions on a whim. This isn't an auction.
What's going to be the thing in your life that defines you? Your tradition? For Mark, it's drinking... I feel like I have to play pool right now. I see the neon green lights every time I come to shul.
Rashi comments on all the Tamids that were in the Temple, which took place daily. The constant offering, which took place daily. Even the show-bread which was put out weekly, around Shabbat. Something that is done on a cycle is continual.
What are you doing that is Tamid? What are you doing always, other than drinking, messing up shul renovations and on Ebay auctions?
Everybody wants changes. In this congregation. 'We want a new rabbi'... I am for that... The board brings up that the rabbi doesn't show up enough. Tamid. The rabbi shows up every Shabbat. OK, not all the days. But he is committed. It is habit.
Some of you have bad habits. Such as speaking Lashon Hara, daily. Mr. Felsenthal, that is not the idea of the Tamid... It has to be something good... That means commanded by H.' When you guys make the decisions. Look around the shul... What is cushion art doing in the back now?... It's a pillow.
The Tamid is a way of life, and that is what the Mishkan and Beit Hamikdash represent. A way of life of serving H.'
We have a day school. We have a beautiful synagogue. Our Tamid is what we do, daily, nightly, weekly.....For that, we thank Mr. Greensfield for being a man without a job, and lighting up the Yahrzeit candles every night. Ever since he lost his job, his commitment has been to the shul... The rest of you. Some don't show up unless there is a decent Kiddish... Coming for Simchas is not a Tamid... You always whip the candies too hard.
May we turn our costumes to positive this Purim... No more Cruella Deville...
May we all change ourselves for good and great new habits, as the day school finally won a basketball game. May we all be champions, holding up the torch to H'... and whiskey too, Mr. Felsenthal.
How do we do things Tamid? We need to appoint leaders.
(Shemot 28:1-2) Moshe has to take his brother and his nephews to serve H’… They light the stuff. Not random people… Because that’s how you get neon lights.
H’ tells Moshe to make holy clothes for Aharon ‘for glory and splendor.’ You don’t show up to shul in disheveled. You call that a sports jacket… In jeans? It’s shul. You’re not in Israel. Jeans are not classy here… They’re Wranglers.
You never dress classy. That’s your continual thing… Yes. It’s a habit to not shave… So start shaving. You’re in shul.
Who makes the clothes? (28:3) Those who are filled with the ‘spirit of wisdom.’ Those are the ones that make the clothes… You can’t even hem the bottom of the pants… ‘Wise of heart’ is used again. They’re the ones. If you don’;t have a wise heart, you can’t have the spirit of wisdom.
It all starts with the heart… Wisdom doesn’t come from books. It comes from the heart.
How do you make the Breastplate, Efod, Tunic, Turban, Sash and Robe? Correctly. You do things correctly. (Shemot 28:4-5) You use the right materials. You don't use synthetics... Nobody donated polyester... It doesn't breath, Pinny. H' didn't want that in the Mishkan. Or in your suits...
The Efod was made correctly too (Shemot 28:6-12)… Yes. There was gold in there. You use the real stuff. And they put ‘stones of remembrance’ on the shoulder strap of the Efod ‘and Aharon will carry the names before H.”’ He carried the names of the children of Israel. For the children of Israel. It remind H’... H' needs to be reminded that we are not mess ups. If Sim were to wear the names, it would be bad. If Mark wore them with neon green... The Efod is the Efod. Exactly...
We have to be reminded to do stuff correctly... I don't know how tall Aharon was. Maybe they could see his shoulder.
We have to be reminded about people. If we don’t have those remembrance stones, we forget. Why do you think the grandkids never visit...
All the best to the Pinklwitz family who lost their brother this week. And a Mazel Tov to the Simovitzs... We remember Harry. We put a plaque... That's a remembrance stone... Plate. Trophy. Whatever you want to call it. Plaque...
You do things correctly. And you remember those things. You can look to the Beit Knesses Anshei Sinah... At least they have a decent Ner Tamid...
Shiva house. Don’t talk till they talk to you… You say stupid stuff… Yes. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s more uncomfortable hearing you talk about how hard work is, when they lost their grandfather… They lost their grandfather, Yaakov.
Do at least one good thing a day. Make it a constant. Make it a constant so that H' will remember us for good. You will remember the good... Bernie. Going to a Shiva house doesn't count for you... Sometimes intentions are not right. When you do them the wrong way...
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
The men really do look disheveled. Always. They are always dressed poorly. Since double breasted suits went out, they have been disheveled. Three decades of bad looking men.
One thing I can say about our congregation is that the wisdom in our shul does come from the heart. It comes from nowhere else. Nobody reads. Our library has barely any books in it. Nobody shows up to the classes. Debates between members usually end up with 'I know you are, but what am I.' And there is no retort to that.
We need continuity in the shul. Continued stuff. Stuff that happens all the time, other than bad decisions by the board, and polyester. Tradition is all the time.
The rabbi didn’t stray away from intermarriage. I love that. My kids haven’t intermarried, so I love hearing about it. I look around the shul and I can see who hates the message. Laura’s kids are intermarried, and they go to shul more than her.
Love the message. Something you do every day is continual, even if you’re not doing it all day. I don’t know if that’s Torah, but I like it. I give Tzedakah in the Pushke and it’s like I’m giving charity all day. One dollar. That's it. One greeting a day. One Bracha. I’m going to start doing Mitzvot less often now.
A good decision once a day was a great message to our members. If the rabbi focused on more than one good decision, it wouldn't happen. That would be too much for them. They have to really focus to do something that is not messed up, like Faye's new car purchase.
The neon green lights had me praying for a dance party.
Bingo is huge. We need it. They would’ve had Bingo in the Temple if they knew how many people like it. Huge amounts of money would've come in. They would've had more people with a generous and smart heart playing Bingo, and they wouldn't have needed side donations. Bingo would've brought in enough money for all the sacrifices.
I like using the word huge. That’s one thing Trump gave America. A lot of hugeness.
They were rightfully mad that I didn’t read the bulletin. As a community member, I should be on top of death. I just never got used to reading anything. When I was a kid, my parents told me who died. Every night, they shared the community death toll with me.
I am not for Shiva house etiquette rules, but our congregants need it. You bring food. You don’t say stupid stuff. The rule of not talking till the mourner talks to you is perfect. Nobody would talk to Hymie. They would just let Bernie sit there. I have a feeling the rabbi would like Bernie more if he followed those rules during his sermon.
How the rabbi switches from deaths, BD"Es, to Mazel Tovs so quickly is a finesse mastered over many years of professional community care. He's better than the local news anchor. 'She died, and there is a new life somewhere else in America.' Such a quick change in emotion.
We never have new kids in our congregation. They're always kids of people who moved away. Sometimes, generations removed. I can't care about their grandkids that haven't visited Topeka since their uncle was Bar Mitzvahed, having a baby. And there is such pride. The rabbi's announcement should be, 'And another kid that won't visit was just born. We wish a Mazel Tov to the Feinblums who have another grandchild they will never see.'
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The Falafel of Etan
Israelis are very possessive of their falafel. Even when they have a shop, they don't like to share it… That's Etan. Standing over them while they eat. Making sure they don't run away with his falafel.